I have talked about the fact that Good Communication is Key. I actually shared six keys to good communication. There is another key, similar to some of the first six, but more basic. This key is to not resort to mind reading. It sounds simple, maybe even sounds like something we would never attempt – to read the mind of our spouse. But in actuality we often do just that when we fail to communicate well. We can make assumptions about what our spouse says or means when it is not specific enough. And we can assume our spouse knows what we mean or intend when we have not shared the whole picture.
In addition to mind reading, we are often guilty of other faulty thinking. One major error is to over generalize. This happens when we take one fact or event and attempt to turn it into a universal truth, an absolute truth that ends up restricting us. We find ourselves in this trap often when we find ourselves using words like never, always, nobody, and everyone.
In both cases – in mind reading and in over generalization – the heart of the problem is in our assumptions. With mind reading we assume we know something that has not been expressed but we think was implied, or we assume our spouse has a complete idea when we have only shared a portion of it. In over generalization we assume that others see the world, see us, as we do. And we assume that one event can be expanded to a universal law.
The key to not falling into the trap of mind reading is to concentrate on communicating not only well, but thoroughly and completely. We must give enough information for the other party to understand us, and we must ask questions to ensure the other party has shared enough with us as well.
The key to not falling into the trap of over generalization is to realize limited information should not be used to construct universal rules that apply all the time in our minds. It is helpful to remember the first part of the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This leads us to the realization that we do not change our circumstances nor do we change another person. What we change is ourselves, and how we interpret those circumstances and other people. When we learn how to do this we are able to stay away from the faulty thinking that can have such a negative influence on us. In fact, our thoughts are key and spring from the heart. That is why it is so important to Guard Your Heart.
My thoughts come from recent experiences of both mind reading and over generalization. How about you – have you recently fallen into either or both of these traps?
thanks to http://neurocritic.blogspot.com/2008/12/more-mindreading.html for the image